A POPULAR pub has been saved from the threat of closure following a community campaign.

The future of the Birkbeck Tavern, in Langthorne Road, Leytonstone, had been uncertain after owner Sarumdale Ltd, a national chain, went into administration in June.

Many of those who then expressed an interest in buying it were property developers, sparking a grassroots campaign and petition signed by over 1,800 residents against it being turned into flats.

And now campaigners are celebrating following the announcement that the Barter Inns chain has stepped in and bought it.

Jess Dickenson, 33, who lives a few doors down from the pub, set up the petition.

She said: "We're really pleased. There was a concern that it could be the end of the pub but I think the support from the community has shown there is a big demand for it.

"It plays an important role locally, whether for live music, football fans or a place for people to meet, and we're so lucky to have it."

Stephen Ferguson, who has managed the pub with his partner Ali Vickers over the past year, said he was delighted at the news.

But he added that they would be stepping down from the role in the new year.

He said: "We were thinking of leaving for a while as it's very anti-social hours running a pub, but we decided to stay on during the administration process to show it was still viable and a going concern.

"It's lovely, fantastic pub with really nice people. People like Jess have done a fantastic job with the petition and demonstrating how important it is to the community.

"We just want to thank everyone for their support".

Mr Ferguson and Ms Vickers say they will remain in charge probably up to February or March until Barter Inns found a new manager.

The pair also run the popular 'What's Cookin' music nights at the pub, which will also take a break in the new year.

Mr Ferguson added: "We must want to have some time out. There's a big demand for What's Cookin' and I'm sure it's more than likely that it will return in some form somewhere.

"The new owners know live music is a big draw to the pub and they've indicated they want that to continue, but I'm not sure in what form at this point."